Patricia Highsmith, born Patricia Plangman of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1921, was a successful American mystery writer who wanted to share her fascination with abnormal behaviour and the psychology of guilt. She explored genres such as fantasy, horror, and comedy through novels and volumes of short stories. Several of her novels were inspiration for well-known films. Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train was one film based on Tom Ripley, Highsmith's series character. .
As a child, Highsmith grew up in New York with her maternal grandmother. In fact, she did not meet her father, who was of German decent, until the age of twelve. Her surname, Highsmith, was that of her stepfather. Highsmith attended Julia Richmond High School followed by Columbia University. There she studied Latin, Greek, and English. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in 1942. She always showed interest in the arts. Still determined to become a famous writer, she sculpted and painted with great talent. After college, she worked with comic books, supplying the writers with plots. She had numerous jobs before she was able to print her first book.
Her debut came in 1950 with Strangers on a Train. This novel, in which two different worlds intersect and cloud the border between normality and abnormality, sets the tone for her following works. Her next novel, The Price of Salt, appeared under the pseudonym Claire Morgan in 1953 after being turned down multiple times by publishers. Its theme of homosexuality was a topic Highsmith dealt with often. Her final novel, titled Small G: A Summer Idyll, also deals with sexual minorities.
Highsmith's most popular character has always been Tom Ripley, a bisexual conman and serial killer. He was introduced in 1955 in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Anthony Minghella directed the latest film based on this mysterious story in 1999, which starred Matt Damon as the peculiar and conniving Tom Ripley.